To provide assistance to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to support them:
Access to most homelessness resources in Melbourne's north and west is coordinated by five services (Access Points Services), one youth specific access point service and one women's specific access point service. Anyone seeking homelessness assistance will initially present to/call one of the access point services for an appointment/interview.
This map shows the catchments for the five access point services in the north and west. You can find the contact details for the access point services on the 'Getting help' page.
The role of the access point services is to provide:
Initial assessment and planning - undertaking general assessments (either in person or over the phone) of an individual or households’ housing and support needs and level of personal vulnerability.
Support options are discussed with households and, where possible, immediate assistance of a limited nature is provided (such as purchase of emergency accommodation).
Prioritisation, best-matching and referral to the resources of the homelessness service system - maintaining prioritised lists of all households in need of further assistance from the local homelessness services. As accommodation or support becomes available, households are best-matched and referred to each vacancy.
Unfortunately, more people present to the access point services than there are appointments available. People generally contact an access point service as early as possible in the day in order to secure one of the available appointments.
The services will try to find emergency accommodation for those who have nowhere to stay that night. There are only 423 government funded emergency accommodation beds in Victoria so services will purchase accommodation from the private sector.
Unfortunately, funds for emergency accommodation are very limited so If someone presents to an access point service who has nowhere to stay that night and there is no appointment available for them, then the reception staff may be able to purchase a night in local low cost private accommodation, if there is any available. The consumer then needs to return to the service the next day for a full appointment.
Services have insufficient funds to purchase emergency accommodation for everyone who needs it and the accommodation available is often not safe or appropriate to need. The Networks have been advocating to appropriate emergency accommodation for some time (see 'Crisis in Crisis')
The difference between the numbers of people presenting to access point services and the appointments available is so great that appointments, which should probably be up to two hours long, are generally no longer than 45 minutes. In this time an Initial Assessment & Planning (IA&P) Worker works with the individual/household to identify what they need, provides information about options and works with the consumer on a short term plan.
If the individual/household would like further support (to find housing or to address anything that is impacting on their ability to maintain housing) or access to housing, their name is placed on a ‘prioritisation list’, awaiting referral to homelessness support services.
Most homelessness services are funded as Specialist Homelessness Services to assist people to prevent or end their experience of homelessness. Services are generally funded to respond to specific cohorts: single men, single women, young people, those experiencing family violence, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and families. Some services are funded as 'cross target' services.
Service models include:
Crisis accommodation and support, such as youth and women's refuges.
Short term assistance/Interim Response/Brief task based response: Time limited, targeted support to assist people to either divert away from homelessness or to reduce their crisis while they are awaiting the support and accommodation that they need. This is a demand management model, providing a small level of support until case management resources become available.
Transitional support, strengths based, case management support, generally provided on an outreach basis, funded to work with people for an average of 13 weeks. Transitional support workers work with individuals and households wherever they are staying. Each transitional support worker working with single people is funded to work with 48 people a year and those working with families are funded to work with 30 families a year.
Family reconciliation for young people who may be appropriately assisted to return home or re-establish a connection with families.
Tenancy plus - providing support to public and community housing tenants who are at risk of eviction.
Capacity building - programs to build the capacity of homelessness support workers. These include the Children's Resource Coordinators, Family Reconciliation and Mediation Program and the Network Coordinator.
The only accommodation managed by the homelessness sector is:
Crisis supported accommodation - refuge style accommodation providing onsite support and short term stays for people experiencing complex issues, who are in crisis and need a period of time to stabilise. There are 423 crisis beds across Victoria.
Transitional housing - medium-term accommodation in which consumers enter into a tenancy agreement and are subject to the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act. These properties give tenants a stable base from which to work with a support provider to improve their overall wellbeing and pursue permanent housing options. There are about 1,100 transitional housing properties in the North and West.
Homelessness to a Home - linked medium term housing and support services for people with a history of sleeping rough, who were accommodated in hotels during lockdown 1 in 2020.
Foyer models - medium term housing for young people engaged in, or ready to engage in education, employment or training. Accommodation is independent, with support workers available on site, generally during business hours.
There are some specialised homelessness services that consumers and support workers can approach directly. These include Aboriginal Community Controlled Services and services that support people involved in the Justice system.
The attached document lists some of the direct referral homelessness services operating in Melbourne's north and west.
Housing Establishment Fund: Initially available to assist households to maintain or establish housing. Access point services now primarily use HEF to purchase emergency accommodation. Support services to assist consumers to settle into new housing.
Private Rental Access Program (PRAP): Managed by homelessness access point services to assist people to access private rental. Up to $7,000 brokerage packages available per household per year. This brokerage program includes three elements:
Children’s Resource Program brokerage: Brokerage to assist children experiencing homelessness, accessed through the North and West Regional Children’s Resource Program
(03) 9359 5493
North and West Regional Children's Resource Program (NWRCRP) - MOSS (merri.org.au)
Creating Connections Education Employment Pathways (CEEP) brokerage: CEEP is available for young people, 16 - 25 years old, who are supported by homelessness services in Melbourne's north and west, to pay for education, employment and training related expenses such as school fees, computers, books, uniforms or travel (MYKI)
Creating Connections Education Employment Pathways (CEEP) | Melbourne City Mission (mcm.org.au)
FRMP brokerage: Brokerage funds to assist young people, 16-25 years old, who are experiencing homelessness, to access:
Youth Private Rental Brokerage: The program aims to help young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness secure and sustain long term housing in the private rental market.
Packages of up to $2000 are available to young people for:
The following overview of the Homelessness Service System in Victoria has been drawn from the Director of Housing's presentation to the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2016.
The following document provides some tips for navigating the homelessness service system in Melbourne's north and west.